From Annapurna Interactive comes Storyteller, the choose-your-own-adventure fairytale maker. Presented like a classic storybook, Storyteller takes you through multiple short stories, many of which allude to existing literary creations. The difference is that you choose your characters, setting, and outcome here, within reason.
Get Reading With Storyteller
Opening the book gives you an insight into what you will be doing. The book’s pages are blank, and you have to fill them with stories. However, it isn’t as free reign as it seems because each story has a pre-written title, set characters, and set locations that you can use. Each double-page spread of the book is laid out like a comic book, with different empty panels you need to fill.
At the bottom of the page are the options for settings and which characters you can use. To set your panel, you select it, then pick your setting, then add the characters. You can only place a certain number of characters in each scene, and arrows will appear denoting where they can be put and how many can be in a scene.
The overall goal of Storyteller is not only to fill the pages but to reach the end of the book, where you will unlock the crown. You can only unlock the crown if you fill up every page correctly. There isn’t a set way stories can be made, but at the same time, there isn’t much scope for narrative creativity.
Fairytales Come to Life
Visually, Storyteller captures the classic idea of fairytale illustrations. The characters are brightly colored and easily recognizable as their archetypes. You can tell at a glance who the King and Queen are, that the haggard old crone is the evil witch, and that the troupe of pointy hatted pint-size people is meant to be a play on the seven dwarves.
The colorful characters pop in their panels against the background’s black and white line drawings. There is minimal animation when the scene is set, with the characters emoting through symbols and changing their poses slightly. Technically Storyteller is a puzzle game, as you have to discover how to make the story you create fit the desired narrative. There’s a lot of fun to be had switching people and scenes around and seeing the outcomes.
It’s also a treat to see how the developers have condensed some of the more famous literary works into a story tellable in four to six panels. Hamlet pops up, as does Snow White, and strangely the story of Oedipus. There is also a chapter on monsters that features Dracula and the Wolfman.
For all the whimsy and inventive ways to create stories, I felt a little cheated by Storyteller. While enjoyable, it was also a bit two-dimensional (pun a bit intended). I was excited at the prospect of crafting enough stories to fill a book but ended up being disappointed by the “narrative on the rails” approach that the game takes. While you can construct different iterations of the stories, you are heavily constricted by the provided locations and characters.
It’s also an extremely short experience. It only took me a few hours to complete the game, and I was left wanting more. More versatility in story crafting would make Storyteller a more satisfying experience. The game is a good lesson in story structure for younger people interested in building narratives. For those looking for more creative license and scope, it will be an enjoyable but lacking experience.
Storyteller is a charming experience overall, but the constraints stop it from truly being wonderful. I hope that in the future, it can be added to and made into a pop-up book instead of the flat pages that currently complete it.
Storyteller is available now on Steam and Nintendo Switch.